Yeah But No But

“Words can inspire. And words can destroy. Choose yours well.”

(Robin Sharma)

How the word “but” keeps us seated.

Language has immense power and impact. It influences our thoughts and actions and yet we often use words habitually and unconsciously without being aware of their impact on our emotional wellbeing. For example, how often do you use the word “but” in daily conversations? Are you aware of how it can affect your mood?

Language has the potential of transforming how we feel and it can be helpful to pay greater attention to the words we use. Our beliefs evolve into our reality and those beliefs are expressed in the words we use. By becoming more aware of how we express ourselves, we can begin to consciously choose our words, be less ambivalent and consequently change our beliefs about our lives, others and ourselves.

The word, or more specifically, conjunction “but” connects ideas that contrast. “I could find another flat but I don’t have enough money.” “I could talk to her but she doesn’t listen”. Notice how the first part of the sentence is full of potential and energy.  While the second half stops us dead in our tracks, hindering our proactive efforts. The but casts a stumbling block in our way. Its use is a subtle, often unconscious way of avoiding the challenge ahead. Challenges can naturally evoke fears and it is human not to want to face up to them.

Just try it yourself and say out loud,”I could change my situation”. How does that feel? Positive? Hopeful? Motivating? – Now add,”but I need the money.” What happens? – The message we send ourselves is confusing and disempowering, suggesting we cannot change our situation – the accompanying feelings are often hopelessness, frustration and despair.

Now try using “and” instead of “but”, “I could change my situation and I need the money.” There’s possibility, isn’t there? We’re not stuck. There are two statements, “I can change the situation” and “I need the money”. One doesn’t rationalise away the other. We remain open to the challenge.

So my suggestion is to replace our buts with ands as they help us identify our needs, such as for someone to listen to us and for more income. When we know what we need we can do something about it. We have choice.

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